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the first parrot blog
Saturday, August 14, 2004
African Greys, The Perfect Pet by Craig and Debra Johnson, J-Birds
(Psittacus erithacus erithacus)
African Grey parrots are the most popular of all of the domestic raised parrots. They are perfect pets for people looking for an intelligent, articulate and entertaining companion bird. Known as the best speaking parrot in the world, Greys also have superior intelligence when compared to other parrot species. Greys are relatively quiet birds and make great apartment pets. By quiet, we mean that the volume of their speech is not nearly as loud as a Cockatoo or a Macaw. Greys make sounds and speak frequently when their human families are present.
Subspecies. There are two subspecies of African Grey parrots: Congo Greys (Psittacus erithacus erithacus), and Timneh Greys (Psittacus erithacus timneh). Congo Greys are sometimes referred to by region and size as Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Congo and Angola Greys. These subdivisions are unreliable and are used indiscriminately by breeders and owners regarding the size of the parrot rather than a scientific sub-division of the Congo.
Congo Greys are the nominate subspecies of African Greys. The word “nominate” refers to the first of the subspecies to be discovered. A medium sized parrot, the Congo is 13” long and weighs between 380 and 575 grams. Congos are light to medium gray in color with a white skin patch surrounding the eyes and a bright red tail.
Timneh Greys are smaller than the Congo at 12 inches and weigh between 300 and 360 grams. Timnehs are medium gray to dark gray in color. They share the white skin patch around the eyes with their Congo cousins but their tails are a dark maroon color.
Behavior. With their intelligence comes certain traits that should be considered before you choose this parrot as your pet. They also place certain responsibilities on owners to ensure a happy, healthy pet.
Greys, more than most parrot species, do not handle boredom and confinement well. If left unattended for long periods or not provided daily interaction with their human families, African Grey parrots may develop undesirable behavior patterns such as aggression and, in some cases, feather plucking.
African Greys will entertain the entire family but as they mature they truly become “ one person” birds. If all members of the family maintain contact with the parrot they may all be able to handle the bird but one person in the family will become the obvious favorite. In most cases, a mature Grey will prefer to be handled only by its chosen handler.
Plucking. The biggest fear of buyers of African Greys is their reputation for plucking feathers. Greys pluck feathers for a variety of reasons. Sometimes boredom or not enough human interaction causes an African Grey to pull out its feathers. Sometimes they get too much attention -- with the owner running over every time the Grey pulls out a feather. Others pluck because of dietary imbalances, or environmental problems, such as people smoking or the air too dry. Greys should have regular baths and exposure to some kind of moist air on a regular basis. African Greys who are emotionally abused by someone who bangs on their cage or routinely squirts them in the face with a spray bottle for discipline may pluck. A single frightening experience has caused Greys to become feather pluckers.1
Environment. Wild Greys range throughout Central and Western Africa, and can be found in western sections of East African countries. They live in primary and secondary rainforest, forest edges and clearings.
As a pet, it is recommended that African Greys be housed in a fairly large cage. A good size for Congos would be 23” x 32” x 50”. Timnehs may be housed in a slightly smaller cage. Greys are extremely intelligent birds and, as such, require a variety of complex and interesting toys. They like security and stability as they tend to be more nervous and easily frightened than other parrot species. Their cages should be placed in view of family activity areas but not in the center of activity.
Diet. African Greys’ natural diet includes the fruits, seeds, nuts and berries of several native rainforest species, including the flesh of oil-palm trees. As a pet, their regular diet should include species-specific pellets, a much smaller percentage of a commercial seed mix, and daily fresh fruit or vegetables.
Most experts recommend that Greys be fed items that provide calcium as a supplement to their diet including almonds, kale, figs, beans and broccoli.
Conclusion. If you are looking for the most interesting of all parrots as a pet and you have the time and commitment to make this parrot an integral part of your family, the African Grey parrot is a great choice.
Footnotes: 1 ”You and Your African Grey” by Jane Hallander
- posted by J-Birds @ 1:38 PM |
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